COLUMBIA — As the final seconds ticked away, Oklahoma City’s Donica Crosby dribbled to the right side of the court and released a 3-point attempt. When the shot reach its highest point, the buzzer was the only sound that could be heard in Mizzou Arena. The crowd of 1,057 fans broke that silence with a loud eruption when the ball came down and bounced off the side of the rim.
Crosby's missed 3-pointer meant the Missouri women’s basketball team had held on to win another close exhibition game. This one a 68-66 win Sunday against Oklahoma City University.
Although Missouri never trailed after a 9-0 run early in the second half, Oklahoma City kept the pressure on The Tigers. After running some time off the clock, RaeShara Brown made a tough layup in traffic to give Missouri a four-point lead with 11 seconds left in the game.
“I was just worried about waiting until the last possible second before I shot the ball and getting a good quality shot," Brown said. "And I was just lucky it went in.”
Brown, a senior, knew it was her job to step up when the game was on the line.
“You have to be able to know when it’s time for you to kind of be the general out on the court,” Brown said. “We’ve got players that don’t have as much experience as we’d like right now. I’ve been in these situations. I have probably the most capability of seeing the floor, getting the offense set up and making sure we get the shot we want to get.”
After Oklahoma City trimmed the lead back to two with a quick basket, Brown could have sealed the win with two free throws. She missed both, setting up the last-second drama..
“I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty,” said Brown, who finished with 23 points.
There was plenty of ugly in the Tigers' two preseason games. Despite finishing exhibition play with two wins, Missouri committed a total of 45 turnovers, including 22 on Sunday. Despite the sloppy play, Pingeton was pleased with the overall improvement from the team’s first exhibition game versus Missouri Western.
“They’re still learning our philosophy, defensively and offensively,” Pingeton said. “Do I think we grew over the last week? Absolutely. Do I think we still have a lot of room for growth? Absolutely.”
Pingeton, who was hired in April, is trying to implement an up-tempo style of play. In the first half against Oklahoma City, the Tigers displayed some of that fast-paced play.
Brown got off to a quick start, scoring the team’s first 7 points, including a steal that led to an easy basket at the other end. Easy points in transition were the key to Missouri’s offense early on. After the Tigers secured a defensive rebound, Brown took the outlet pass and threw a perfect lob pass the length of the court to Shakara Jones, who was streaking to the basket. Jones finished with a layup to give the Tigers a 10-point lead. Running the court is something Pingeton has been emphasizing to her post players during practice.
“Me and Christine (Flores) I thought both really ran the court well today,” said Jones, a senior, who finished with 14 points.
The Tigers used the transition game to outscore Oklahoma City 26-6 in the paint in the first half, but the Stars stayed in the game with their free throw shooting. They were 13-for-14 at the line, while Missouri was just 1-for-2. The Tigers led 35-32 at halftime.
The Tigers open the regular season at 5 p.m. Friday with a game at Memphis.